Incomplete Victory: David Cunliffe’s position in Labour’s caucus looks increasingly shaky.



HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE has David Cunliffe’s “victory” made to Labour? Or, to give that question a slightly different emphasis: how much difference has it been allowed to make?

Before attempting to answer the latter question, let me respond to the former by affirming that the hard-won right of Labour’s members to play a decisive role in choosing their party leader was an extremely important progressive achievement (most observers and commentators on New Zealand politics still haven’t worked out how important). But if we are to call Cunliffe’s September 2013 win a “victory” it is important to acknowledge that it was by no means complete.

To secure a complete victory Cunliffe needed not only the votes of the Party’s rank-and-file but a rock-solid commitment from Labour’s organisational leadership to discipline any Labour MP unwilling to demonstrate by word and deed that they understood and accepted the revolutionary constitutional changes instituted by the 2012 and 2013 annual conferences.

The subsequent behaviour of the Labour Caucus (which, it should be remembered, failed to endorse Cunliffe’s elevation to the leadership) makes it very clear that the party organisation has not been able (or willing?) to bring the parliamentary wing to heel. For this failure the party president, Moira Coatsworth, and her NZ Council should not be criticised too severely. Such a divisive exercise would’ve signalled that the party organisation was at last ready to embark on a final reckoning with the ideological and human legacy of Rogernomics. That could only have been an extremely bloody affair involving multiple casualties – not the sort of spectacle calculated to garner public support in an election year!

And yet the party’s failure to engage with the “Old Guard” is already exacting a heavy political price. Confident that the unstated threat of Labour MPs’ exposing the fragility of Cunliffe’s caucus authority will protect dissidents from the wrath of both the Leader’s and the party’s Head Office, the Old Guard are slowly but surely imprisoning Cunliffe in a right-wing policy framework designed to damage his left-wing credentials in the eyes of trade union affiliates, Labour’s rank-and-file and, eventually, the voters.

Nowhere is the Old Guard’s determination to preserve their neoliberal legacy more evident than in the debate over Labour’s free trade policies. Rumblings of discontent about caucus’s support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement were clearly audible at last year’s annual conference in Christchurch and open division on the issue was only narrowly averted by the last-minute intervention of Cunliffe himself.

That may have been a mistake. Certainly, the party’s failure to establish a clear position on the TPP has been seized upon by Labour’s strongest free-trade advocate, the former Trade Minister and current spokesperson, Phil Goff.

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Since the November conference Goff has conceded nothing to his party’s misgivings about the TPP, speaking out publicly and repeatedly in its favour. Free-trade advocates in the news media, most particularly Fran O’Sullivan, have not been slow to seize upon Goff’s statements as evidence of Cunliffe’s dilemma. Her argument: that the entrenched positions of his more moderate colleagues means Cunliffe cannot follow through on his promises to the Labour Left; is rapidly becoming the conventional wisdom.

O’Sullivan’s case is certainly not weakened when Goff himself puts out a media release (“Labour Pushes NZ Trade Interests in US”, 20/1/14) detailing his week-long visit to the United States where, by his own admission, he met with and was briefed by representatives of the State Department, The Pentagon and the Office of the US Trade Representative.

“Particularly valuable”, says Goff, “was an hour-long discussion with US TPP Chief Negotiator, Barbara Weisel, who I’ve worked with extensively in the past.”

Placed alongside John Key’s round of golf with President Obama, Goff’s hour with Weisel indicates the importance the United States Government attaches to preserving New Zealand’s bi-partisan commitment to free-trade issues.

Were I in David Cunliffe’s shoes, Goff’s easy access to and long-established contacts within the Washington beltway would give me pause. It is hard to dispel the impression that what New Zealand’s current Leader of the Opposition thinks about such issues is regarded by the world’s movers and shakers as being considerably less important than the views of old friends like Goff.

It should certainly prompt Cunliffe to devote as much time and discussion as he can to the State of the Nation speech he has announced for the 27 January. Special consideration should be given to the meaning of last September’s victory over Grant Robertson and Shane Jones. Does it mean that he need not worry about the opinions of his caucus colleagues? Or is the opposite true? Does the absence of majority caucus support make the opinions of his colleagues more important than ever before?

Labour’s new rules mean that when party members gather for their annual conference their democratically-elected Leader’s supremacy is politically unassailable. But the party cannot remain in conference forever. When the delegates return home it is the caucus that continues to meet. With his personal powerbase scattered all over the country, and lacking the backing of a solid majority of his parliamentary colleagues, Cunliffe will find it increasingly difficult to manage the oligarchical demands of caucus politics.

Only when caucus members are as dependent upon the good opinion of the wider party membership as the Leader will it be safe to call his or her election a victory.


  1. If Labour do not rid themselves of their neo-liberal wing, they are history. Voting Green or Mana become the only ways to guarantee progressive policies for NZ.

      • I’m not sure what either of those two links is supposed to tell us about New Zealander’s views on politics?
        The first link is from the Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion, which asks business owners about issues such as “Difficulty finding skilled and unskilled labour” and “Constraints on production”.
        ‘Constraints on production’ are removed when the environment is trashed and wages lowered. ‘Difficulty finding skilled and unskilled labour’ subsides when unemployment is up. That maybe the direction the 10% want to go in, but not most New Zealanders. Most are repulsed by those measures.
        Your second link is from the UN and is little more than a circle-jerk based on Eurocentric assumptions which has been designed to perpetuate neoliberal Western values. Asking questions about ‘freedom to make choices’ and ‘freedom of corruption’ on a worldwide scale offers us no insight at all into the political opinions of New Zealanders. Again, produced by and for a small sector of society.

        Got anything else?

        • My point is simply that what is euphemistically referred to as ‘progressive’ policies represent significant change from the current settings, particularly economic. NZer’s generally don’t want that, we are mostly happy with the direction the country is going in.

      • You left out links to rising home mortgage rates; high unemployment; poor productivity; a shortage of affordable, decent housing; a growing wage/wealth gap; wages lower than Australia…

        Linking to media stories on matters as nebulous as “business confidence” and “happiness” is like about as irrelevant as you can get IV.

        If you want to know what will be Key’s downfall in eight months, keep an eye on aforementioned mortgage rates; petrol prices; and a bounce in unemployment as businesses strive to cut costs (caused through rising interest rates) by cutting staff.

        With mortgages set to rise to 8% (or more?!) in the coming year, that’s a lot of home owners who will be hurting in their wallets and screaming blue-murder at our Smile & Wave Dear Leader…

        And after six years, Key will look like a prize twat if he tries to blame that on Labour.

        • Re-read your own post Frank, it’s all speculation. At the moment interest rates are low, inflation is low, the wealth gap is not growing (as your own stats showed on another thread), and unemployment is on it’s way down. By virtually all measures the economy is in far better shape than in was in 2008, and people vote on relaity, not on your warped predictions of doom.

            • Selwyn, NZ’s current account deficit as a % of GDP has reduced from 8.8% in 2008 to 4.3% in 2013.

              Anything else?

              • Oh yes much more… Since 2009 the current account has increased from around 2% of GDP to 4.3% in 2013. That is following a similar pattern that occurred from 2001 (where it was below 1%) to around 4.5% by 2004. Like we know, without solutions designed to tackle it, it ballooned out to just short of 8% in 2008.

                Remember in 2008, Bill English’s message to the population was to reduce private debt. That, in time with the GFC, had a reduction effect on the CA deficit. But since then, we have seen increased numbers of Government account contributions to the CA deficit… significantly via the use of offshore owned social service providers that have structured their own enterprises so their NZ based operations show a debt to their offshore motherships. Check out Rymans, Bupa, Serco etc etc… This is where NZ taxpayer funds are syphoned out of the country while also having the double whammy, where a) taxpayer resource is lost to the domestic economy, and b) a debt to offshore owners is left in its wake.

                Add this to the changes in the NZ domestic economy where bank and finance interest rates are expected to increase, and NZ’s private debt contribution to the CA deficit is now going to expand as a proportion once again.

                Anticipating this, one would have thought solutions to this madness will have been engineered in the 2008-13 period. Sadly the Government has not given the CA deficit the political attention necessary so as to apply it as a priority…

                  • IV are you challenged by facts or blind? Nowhere in my response did I state that Labour’s CA deficit track record from 2004-2008 was less than National’s current performance.

                    My response to your blind National-aligned sycophancy was to suggest that in the 2001-04 period Labour’s record or pattern on the CA deficit was similar to National’s from 2008-13, but that it is a shame how this Government has not learned from Labour’s policy failure to address it when domestic and global economic conditions indicate a marked deterioration of the CA deficit is looming.

                    Read my comment above, and again check out the document that you and I are both citing.

                    Man, if you can’t understand this stuff, why expose your weakness to all in sundry?

                    • Selwyn IV doesnt understand the concept of a business cycle or trade cycle as the british called it discrete form the political authority.

                      Such things don’t exist economist continue to assure us. all evidence to the contrary.

                    • 1. I was repeating your own claim. Which was ““Since 2008 the current account has increased from around 2% of GDP to 4.3% in 2013. ” That was factually incorrect. Admit it and move on.

                      2. Clearly you have no concept of a trend. When this Govt. came to office the BoP deficit was 8.8% of GDP; that figure has reduced to 4.4%. This is good Selwyn. Good.

  2. Oh, for goodness sake.

    If a leader other than Cunliffe had “intervened” in Conference to water-down the Conference’s stance on the TPPA, then Trotter would not be twisting logic to blame anyone else. Cunliffe (not Goff or anybody else) used his muscle to avoid the Party taking too strong a stance on the issue.

    The Conference was in a position to take a strong stance and chose, at Cunliffe’s insistence, not to. The way a democratic party works is that you should vote for the positions you want the party to take – not rely on Trotter to divine the true intention of the members.

    Although, I suspect Cunliffe is more than happy for Goff to take the credit/blame for slightly twisting Labour’s position away from where some of Cunliffe’s supporters want it to be. It avoids Trotter and his lot from realising the obvious. Cunliffe was never who he said he was.

    • The most rational argument yet Herbert, there is no cloak and dagger here. Just Cunliffe’s working class ‘accent’

    • Perhaps Trotter is attempting to spell out to the Labour caucus just what they are risking by ignoring Mr Cunliffe – i.e. their support base.

      As I understand it Mr Cunliffe was voted in due to huge support from Labour party members and it appears that undermining him is to undermine the support of Labour. Not rocket science – but apparently hard for some to grasp.

  3. So the delegates need to meet outside of conference?

    Perhaps they can use the internets!

    It’s quite clear there needs to be a constant watch on the MPs who aren’t listening to the party and that the members need to stay in touch outside of the conference. I’m sure they do this individually but why not use modern technology to run their own caucus.

    I know nothing about the inside of the Labour Party but I would have thought having a group dedicated to tracking the performance of the MPs would have been a sensible option at the best of times. As it is, we have an organisation made up of thousands of people, of which approximately 25 are causing massive problems.

    Are members of the Labour Party so in thrall to their MPs that this mathematically simple issue can’t be resolved?

    One of the good things about the daily blog is that Labour members write in so I would love to hear from some of you about this.

  4. Meanwhile, what the heck is going on over at National? Who knows? They just carry on in secret as per usual. It would be good to get a bit more insider information and analysis on just what is happening in that party with a bit more of their dirty laundry aired for all the public to see.

    • @ FAMBO – With two prominent court cases with political implications pending this year, one in March and the other in July, we could well see some very dirty laundry being aired belonging to one conspicuous National MP in particular!

  5. Interesting choice of topic. The fact is some ‘Old Guard’ MPs are not going to change their ways. If Cunliffe is a strong leader then he must lay the law down to his caucus. Compare the current situation with the Pied Piper followers in National. Their unity to the party is one of the strongest attributes the Left are forced to contend with in the election. Key, Joyce and others will constantly remind voters of the instability a new government could bring. It shows that while diversity and democracy are valued by many as party norms, they are not the kind of things that will guarantee a party electoral success.

    Labour must invigorate the working class to vote for them by focusing on issues which affect workers and working families. Let the Greens and Mana go for more niche policy platforms. Labour will not govern a coalition if they try to please everyone with their campaign, but what they must do is show they have a set of firm policies but will be willing to work with coalition partners to form a strong government.

  6. Secrecy has no place in a functioning democracy !
    If Labour continues to give support to the idea that New Zealand will sign up to the TPP(A) then Labour has lost the next election already !

    Phil Goff needs to be removed from any position that allows him to support the signing of the TPP(A), if his influence is can not be stopped Cunliffe is not the leader New Zealand needs at this critical time in history.

    The TPP(A) is being written in secret by 600 corporate lobbyist and even John Key hasn’t seen a full transcript !
    The use of the term “free trade” when linked to the TPP(A) is nothing but a Trojan Horse that transnational Corporations have spent years and billions of dollars to inflict on our countries. Even Trade Minister Tim Groser admits that signing TPP(A) will be a loss of New Zealand sovereignty ,something he calls “trivial” !
    How many New Zealander have died in wars overseas protecting our right to govern our selves ? Do you think those patriots would call the dissolution of our sovereignty “trivial” !

  7. Calling the TPPA (and it’s other versions) a Free Trade Agreement, is like calling the invasion of Iraq, a Peace Initiative!

  8. Reading Chris Trotter’s article,a man I have some time for,and the comments,it seems the Left is as divided as ever.

  9. Labour would do better to go into battle against “big”. They need a complete makeover. The old socialist model does not really apply any more as the people that they served back when no longer exist.
    As National seems to be the economic buddy of big business, so Labour must become the champion of small business. It stands to reason as basically Labour, in the past has been the champion of the small person, so why not?
    Where personal freedoms go Nats, Labs and Greens and even ACT seem to be on similar pages (gay marriage), the danger here is the outlier – conservatives, who represent the old brigade who can’t stand change.
    THAT would gain them some traction, and with the Greens championing our natural world – for me anyway, win, win

    • Good thinking Rae. The regions are dying and the cities are rotting under the weight of inequality, pollyannaism and hedonistic short-term selfishness. The death of depth, and the triumph of pap.

      Channel the pope and Mandela, David. It’s the force of billions and millennia versus a filthy few and the tiny Herald readership. Banish the Goffs and Parkers forever and leave super at 65 or perish and take thousands with you.

  10. David Cunliffe’s much heralded speech to the nation on January 27 will be the crunch time for Cunliffe and the Labour Party.

    With this speech, if he decides too, David Cunliffe can completely sideline, and sidestep this logjam, by appealing to the Labour Party membership and the public straight over the heads of recalcitrant caucus members.

    This is what is called leadership.

    It is his call.

    Will we see a woolly aspirational speech in which David Cunliffe offers no specifics, so as to satisfy the caucus, or will we see details of a progressive program?

    From the direction and the nature of this speech we should be able to devine the probable trajectory of the Labour Party in government.

    Some of the topics that Cunliffe has raised in the past that he needs to nail down now are:

    The TPPA – specifically a commitment for a full release of the draft transcript.[i]

    The illegal activities of the GCSB – A commitment to repeal the law that that pardoned these illegal activities.[ii]

    Climate Change – A commitment to ban on All deep sea oil drilling and New coal mining, for the welfare of future generations.[iii]

    At his first press conference as Party leader, David Cunliffe said the agreement will be a difficult and complex issue for New Zealand and called on the government to release the details of the negotiations: ‘My challenge to John Key and his government is to put that information in the public domain so the debate can begin’.
    (my emphasis J.)

    David Cunliffe; “based upon what we have heard here tonight. I personally, and I am sure my caucus colleagues would be of the view that this legislation, must not, will not, and cannot stand.”

    “I’m very sad to say there’s a very good chance that by the time my two young sons reach adulthood, the safe and healthy world that we all took for granted will be gone. Finished.”
    “Sure, we will have to both protect dolphins and shorten dole queues, which is what you will be expecting from the title of this speech.”
    “But actually, the nature of this crisis is far deeper and more fundamental than the standard environment-economy trade-off thinking might suppose. The coming crisis threatens more than just marine biodiversity. The species we are trying to save could be our own.”

    • David Cunliffe, same like Grant Robertson, like Stuart Nash, like Helen Kelly, and other senior labour members, inside or outside of Parliament, have to this date been ominously silent on their future social welfare policy. I and others I know presented information on welfare reforms to them, which should indeed have compelled them to make a clear statement that they will offer something very much different, fairer and better than National and their lackey supporters.

      Stuart Nash got a hammering in a post here over a week ago, where he was trying to talk up Labour as the party, and to marginalise the Greens. He was challenged repeatedly on social and other policies. He did not answer to most, even though appearing to be a bit apologetic and “conformed” at the end.

      I have as a person who has depended on welfare support, and who knows a fair few others living on the margins of society, NO reason that is visible to me to this date, to vote for Labour or David Cunliffe as their leader.

      I am sorry to say so, I wish it was different.

      A state of the nation speech by Cunliffe, which will again be directed at the wider public and the media, that will in likelihood again offer little of substance, will go on about aspirational stuff and try to get appeal and support.

      It is unlikely to give anything of substance to me or others in similar predicaments, and hence I am doubtful whether Cunliffe and those supporting him in caucus will bring about the change of direction I and others had hoped for.

      My vote will go to another “lesser evil”, I am afraid, and there is NO party that I can see, that I would fully support.

      I feel and think, that most people that are on benefit incomes, and even the working poor, will have little incentive to vote at all, although I would appeal to them to do so, to avoid at least more of the hammering they get under this nasty government, that only looks after the top 25 to 30 per cent of the population.

      Re Cunliffe and Labour, I am yet to be convinced that I can expect much of substance and value, and a true and honest change. I am sick of waiting and will not bother with more nice, ambiguous words and slogans.

  11. Something some of us, who live in or near Auckland, can do is turn up to Cunliffe’s state of the nation speech in Kelston. A huge, enthusiastic crown would at once help to keep Cunliffe to his word and show his caucus colleagues where the support lies.

    If these people think that Cunliffe can do the PR while they continue with BAU, they need to be made to see that this won’t wash. People who are being shafted know they are being shafted, and will not be won over by fairy tales. These people need to decide whether their primary commitment is to their neo-liberal contacts, with a few concessions made for getting elected, or whether their primary commitment is to the people of NZ. It is only by making our presence felt that we can force this question upon them.

    We have very few avenues by which to collectively make our presence felt, and attending the state of the nation speech is one of them.

    • For peoples info… David Cunliffe’s speech is 1pm on Monday 27 January. It’s at St Leonard’s Road School, St Leonard’s Road, Kelston, West Auckland. You can register your interest online or just turn up.

      I am going to attend even though voting Mana, the broader left needs to support each other, hopefully DC has an exit strategy (door) ready for the remaining rogernomes.

      • Thanks Tiger Mountain. I urged everyone to go, but forgot to add the details as to when and where. And I agree with you – the broader left needs to support each other.

        • oops! change of venue as per a few minutes ago via email.

          “The event will now be held at Kelston Girls’ College Auditorium, corner of Great North Road and West Coast Road at 1pm on Monday the 27th of January, not at St Leonards Road School hall as originally advertised. Kelston Girls is just around the road from St Leonards, but will give us more room so that everyone who wants to can come along.

          “Thank you so much to everyone who has RSVPed already. You’ve shown there’s huge interest in a new vision for New Zealand – a better way of doing things that will give every Kiwi the opportunity to get ahead.

          If you’re in Auckland and you’d like to come along, click the link below – we’ll save you a seat.”

          David Cunliffe

      • Sorry, I surely won’t go, as I prefer to stay away from more disappointing public meetings and speeches like the one to be expected. I am not a voluntary “cheer leader”, until I have seen some policies that will offer me and others assurances, and that I can vote for. There will be little if any of that to be announced, I fear. So far I continue to be disappointed with Labour and remain highly suspicious.

        Good luck to all “cheer leaders” who are going!

  12. Any doubts with labour are fine, like dropping the fresh fruit things (on Stuff today). The doubt clarifies things. For those serious lefties looking for a home, it just means ruling out Labour, if they can’t make up their mind, we will all end up going for Green.

  13. I repeat what I have written and said a fair few times before: “Democracy” in New Zealand is a FARCE!

    The only “input” the public really has guaranteed into political decision-making is a vote in the general election once every 3 years, nothing else. That vote is limited to voting for an electorate MP and a party. There are sitting MPs for electorates and there are sitting list MPs in Parliament, who have gained inside knowledge, tied themselves into existing, strong networks, have talked with and listened to lobby groups and thus are part of the system as it is. There are new candidates for election, but they will have been selected by the party members or committees. They are new and often lack serious enough input, even if elected.

    You can see how the Greens even have “moderated” many of their positions since having adapted to Parliamentary protocol, to the system as it works in- and outside of Parliament, and they are now not only mostly dressed in suits and the likes, they talk accordingly when interviewed by another part of the establishment, the mainstream media, full of line-towing, single topic or personality focused, conditioned, stream lined journalistic characters, who would not bite the hand that feeds them. They are more out for sensation, scandal and so forth, than stuff that provides ideas for real, intelligent debate.

    Society is dominated, run, maintained and controlled by those that own assets, business enterprises and such “stakes”, and lobby groups are mostly representing these. Those that have nothing, that own nothing, that are simple workers or even without jobs, they have minimal input in day to day happenings, processes and resulting news reporting. We live after all in a capitalist society, where any “social” component is dictated by the ones that control the system as a whole. So at best you get the morsels that drop off the plates at the table, where the “important” (owning, operating, leading and in some important roles working) persons sit and dine.

    Labour is like any party well stuck in the system, and the Old Guard, as Chris describes the ones in their caucus here, they are as much part of the ones at the table, as the others they dine and deal with. I dare to say, that at least at times, David Cunliffe is himself of the “Old Guard”, but tries to broaden his appeal and also influence and importance.

    These well connected, experienced, informed, and thus powerful “old guard” members, they will not give up their roles, their seats, their positions, unless they have to. They know that the voters have little choice, but to vote between the usual greater and lesser “evils”. There is NO party that is truly challenging the system as a whole, not even Mana! There is no party or movement that would get the opportunity, media attention and so forth, to challenge significantly the establishment and social and economic realities in this country, and they know it. Not even Dotcom will do so, as he and his likely candidates will struggle to get 5 per cent of the votes, that is provided that he may not be facing some serious legal challenges, on practices by Mega or himself! If that happens, and the media dig into that, all his political dreams will be over.

    So Cunliffe is stuck, the voters are stuck, and we are all stuck in the status quo. At best we will get a Labour led government that will again only bring about a few tweaks to the system.

    Many here use also Facebook, Twitter and Google regularly, same as other providers and services. They are all part of the capitalist, existing system, and only appear to offer changes and alternatives. They gather data to sell it commercially to advertisers and retailers. Nobody seems to bother much, and all the hype about GCSB has also faded into the background again.

    I read with no surprise what Chris has written here, as he is correct in much of it. If Labour members (particularly the newly signed up ones) want a real change of direction, you must lobby and fight at base level now, send messages to your MP, remind them of your expectation for change, and do even more. MPs and their leader sit there most the time, members only have input now and then, that are the realities of power. Better realise this, or your will face yet more disappointments.

  14. Labour have a serious problem with policy making. When I was a Labour party member you knew what the party stood for, now it is anyone’s guess, and policy is changed on a whim.

    For example in 2011 Labour trumpeted its policy to remove GST on fruit and vegetables as being ‘evidence based policy development’. Despite this, the policy was dumped by David Shearer soon after he became leader, and not content with that David Cunliffe has just announced they are being dumped again! This is mickey mouse in the extreme, but the real point is how can something be evidence based policy in 2011, and 2 years later be not?

    Virtually the same case exists with the $5,000 tax free threshold. This seems to me to a solid policy, supported by sound data, that benefits one of Labour’s target constituencies, and yet has also been dropped.

    • Pointless analysis considering Cunliffe has said they are being dropped in favour of new policies.
      Since you have no idea what the new policies are, how can you say its a bad idea to drop the old ones?
      Removing GST on fruit and vegetables, and first $5000 as tax free are little more than tinkering with a failed system. Most people who understand what Labour’s core values are would say they needed to go. Is this premature pontificating of Cunliffe a common trait from all Tories at the moment? It reeks of desperation.
      Try again on Monday

      • The problem, Fatty, is the flip flopping. David Cunliffe was instrumental in developing and selling both of the policies I quoted, yet two years after they were sold as ‘evidence based policy’ they are ditched. Then a year later, they are ditched again.

        This is so like DC though.

        He gets a photo shoot with a young man who can’t afford to buy a house…only to later discover the man wanted to buy an investment property.

        As a CR voter, it is hilarious to watch.

  15. “Today I have taken a necessary step toward putting these values to work, and have dropped two policies from our manifesto – GST off fresh fruit and vegetables and the first $5000 tax-free policy.

    While the aims of these policies were admirable, dropping them frees up around $1.5 billion per annum which can be used more effectively to help Kiwi families when it is targeted better to deliver help where needed.

    This is a part of a comprehensive economic and social package that we will be announcing in the lead up to the election. I’ll be outlining the first of these policies at my State of the Nation speech on Monday.”
    David Cunliffe public statement given to ‘The Standard’, January 22, 2014

    I think this preliminary statement from David Cunliffe preceding his speech on the 27th raises more questions than answers.

    Maybe this is his intent.

    So it will be good to see if some of these questions are answered in his speech on Monday

    On climate change:

    Gareth Hughes and Jeanette Fitzsimmons of the Green Party have both said that Deep Sea Oil must be opposed on climate change grounds.

    So I was distressed to see that David Cunliffe has given conditional approval to deep sea oil drilling, this is in contradiction of the views on the danger of climate change that he expressed in his famous Dolphin and Dole queue speech.

    This leads me to wonder where David Cunliffe stands on that other Green Party bottom line policy, of No New Coal Mines?

    Will David Cunliffe say anything about the huge proposed expansion of new coal mining on the Denniston Plateau?

    Will David Cunliffe say anything at all about climate change?

    I think that if the Labour leader takes up Greg Presland’s crazy suggestion to make some vague promise to bring agriculture into the ETS, this will signal that Labour have given up on winning this year’s election, as this policy would only serve to alienate rural voters and will leave city dwellers unmoved. Whereas everyone wants to see deep sea oil drilling stopped.

    Also by not siding with the Greens over Deep Sea Oil and No New Coal mines David Cunliffe is leaving the door open for John Key to attack the Greens as extremists for promoting these policies.

    On tax cuts:

    As well as David Cunliffe’s support for deep sea oil drilling which will cost Labour votes.

    David Cunliffe says he will reverse Labour’s ‘promised’ tax cuts on the poor, But has said nothing about whether he will reverse National’s ‘actual’ tax cuts on the rich.

    I was also a bit disturbed by David Cunliffe’s announced removal of two of the Labour Party’s proposed tax cuts on the poor, ie the promise to cut the GST tax off fresh fruit and vegetables, and the promise to cut the tax for the first $5,000 dollars of income. David Cunliffe says this is necessary because of the $1.5billion these tax cuts will cost the public accounts.

    Though of course this policy too, will cost Laobur votes, I am prepared to keep an open mind on these reversals in Labour poverty mitigation, awaiting the release of Labour’s “comprehensive economic and social package” of which David Cunliffe said, “I’ll be outlining the first of these policies at my State of the Nation speech on Monday.”

    Hopefully we will be hearing that as well as reversing Labour’s two proposed tax cuts on the poor, David Cunliffe will be removing the whole raft of actual tax cuts on the rich, which will return many more $billions back into the public accounts, way more than will be saved in reversing Labour’s proposed, two, $1.5million tax cuts on the poor.

    On Superannuation:

    David Cunliffe has said nothing on reversing Labour’s manifesto policy on raising the age of retirement to 67.

    If David Cunliffe retains this policy, this is another election loser.
    Everyone knows the older section of the population vote in larger numbers than the younger section of the population. Not only this, but younger voters will be annoyed that they will be kept out of jobs by older people working on longer. This is a definite vote killer for Labour, especially in light of the fact that John Key has vowed not to raise the age of retirement. So if David Cunliffe does not reverse this policy as well as costing Labour votes, he will also be handing Winston Peters the perfect excuse to go with National. Matt McCarten has forecast that NZFirst will bring in 6 MPs next year. On current polling this will guarantee a National led government.

    • I’m still waiting to see what he’s offering on Monday. My main concern is that Labour tries not to tread on the Green Party too much, either by nabbing too much ‘green’ policy themselves and leaving the Green Party without a distinct identity, or by having too much of a focus on resource extraction which makes it hard for the Green Party to govern with them.

      At the end of the day, the parties have too much else in common to let this be the reason National gets a third term. We still have a stagnant, casualised labour market with poor options for working class people and rampant child poverty which we need them to focus on. We have declining regions which we need them to focus on. We have waterways polluted by dairying, which we need them to focus on. We have the TPPA, the GCSB bill, and the TICS bill which we need them to focus on. Once contextualised in this manner, oil drilling is but one thing, and we can afford a divergence on it for now. National and its allies must be defeated.

      • “we can afford a divergence on it for now”
        Cemetery Jones

        Actually we can’t.

        “My main concern is that Labour tries not to tread on the Green Party too much, either by nabbing too much ‘green’ policy”
        Cemetery Jones

        We need all parties to “nab” Green Party policies, this is what is called leadership. This is the way that progress will be made.

        If we have to wait until the Green Party are the government it will be too late.

        If the Green Party have great policies that they are keeping to themselves, because they don’t want other parties to “nab” them, then they would be acting from opportunist motives and seeking a sectarian advantage at the expense of the populace they are supposed to serve. Personally I don’t believe that is what the majority of Green Party members went into parliament for.

        “National and its allies must be defeated.”
        Cemetery Jones

        Just on a tactical level a huge majority are opposed to deep sea oil drilling, and over 60 percent of the population want the government to do more on climate change. With the polls being so close, for Labour to ignore this huge pool of support is to court electoral defeat. To take up this issue is to win, to ignore it is to lose.

  16. Climate Change has been called the elephant in the room. ie The enormous problem that everyone tries to ignore.

    Statements coming from David Cunliffe preceding his State Of The Nation speech on Monday are that labour conditionally support deep sea oil drilling if more regulation to prevent oil leaks is passed.
    However David Cunliffe is silent about the danger of accelerating and worsening climate change that is also represented by this technology.

    Gareth Hughes and Jeanette Fitzsimmons of the Green Party have both said that Deep Sea Oil must be opposed on climate change grounds. Wellington Regional Councillor, Bruce Paul, is of the same opinion, saying, it was time to call a halt.
    It is definitely not the time to explore new and risky unconventional sources of oil. The call from these Leaders is for David Cunliffe to heed the danger of climate change. Their call is made in response to the scientific calculations made by scientists like NASA’s James Hansen, and others, that we must halt all unconventional oil extraction, like fracking, like deep sea and Arctic drilling, like tar sands and shale oil. These technologies are completely unsustainable, David Cunliffe knows this. This is why I am so distressed that he has given his conditional approval to deep sea oil drilling, this is in contradiction of the views on the danger of climate change that he so emotionally expressed in his famous Dolphin and Dole queue speech.

    Also by not siding with the Greens over Deep Sea Oil and their policy of No New Coal mines David Cunliffe is leaving the door open for John Key to attack the Greens as extremists, this is a double whammy against David Cunliffe ever becoming Prime Minister and the great leader he could be.

    Polls show that over 60% of the population want the government and the Prime Minister to do more on climate change, by turning his back on this huge mandate David Cunliffe is guaranteeing his defeat. With the polls being so close, David Cunliffe needs every bit of support he can get. He cannot afford to dump on potential allies and supporters.

    David Cunliffe needs to stop listening to the neo-liberal worm tongues in his caucus who are keeping him enfeebled. Like King Theoden, he needs to dispense with their advice, he needs to start listening to his people, he needs to revisit the science that informed his views before he became leader.

    “Since I became a father, everything I did before seems rather shallow and selfish.

    I feel incredibly lucky and grateful that I have the good fortune to live in one of the few remaining places on earth that has a stable democracy, food, education, healthcare and, above all, a healthy environment.

    How much longer will this paradise last? I’m not sure. I’m very sad to say there’s a very good chance that by the time my two young sons reach adulthood, the safe and healthy world that we all took for granted will be gone. Finished.

    David Cunliffe June 23, 2012

    For ignoring climate change, when he should know better, David Cunliffe will be receiving a visit from the climate change elephant this Monday to remind him of the danger.

    Will David Cunliffe greet the climate change elephant graciously, or with hostility?

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